Frequently asked questions about the MDCE

What is the MDCE and who attends?
The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo is an annual convention for marine dealers and the industry suppliers who support them. The conference is focused on an educational component that seeks to provide dealers with best practices, expert advice and solutions for running a stronger business. Similarly, the expo is focused on providing dealers with business solutions through the display of products and services that can help dealerships achieve greater efficiency and profitability.

Who’s running this show, anyway?
The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo is a collaborative effort between Boating Industry magazine and the Marine Retailers Association of America. The partners worked together on the 2008 event, replacing the name (MRAA Annual Convention) with the MDCE title. Boating Industry then took over the creation and production of the annual event by way of a five-year licensing agreement prior to the 2009 event. The MRAA Convention Committee provides direction, feedback and advice, while Boating Industry generates the content, secures the speakers, creates the sales packages, sells the sponsorships and exhibits and ultimately is responsible for the production of the event.

Why did the event move to Orlando?
For years, the marine dealer event was held in Las Vegas in hopes that there would be cost benefits and in an attempt to attract West Coast-based dealers. The move to Orlando has centralized the event in the boating world, with thousands of dealers and manufacturers within a couple hundred miles. In fact, there are more than 1,000 dealership personnel who subscribe to Boating Industry magazine within a 200-mile radius of Orlando, not to mention a number of active trade associations. Orlando makes it easier for more dealers to attend.

Why did you choose the Orange County Convention Center
The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo has grown exponentially over the course of the last two years. From 2007 to 2008, total dealer attendance doubled. From 2008 to 2009, total attendance tripled. So the event has grown to the point where only four facilities in the Orlando area can hold us. We believe the combination of the Rosen Plaza Hotel and the OCCC have the perfect combination of space, amenities, and opportunities for the success of the event and our continued growth.

How is the MDCE realizing such incredible growth in a down market?
The MDCE’s growth is attributable to a number of factors. First of all, the dealer body itself, in the midst of perhaps the worst downturn the market has ever seen, needs answers. It needed answers on how to survive, where to find lending, how to combat economic conditions and more. The MDCE is the only national convention where marine dealers can get those answers from a wide variety of sources — including their peers. Second, the collaborative effort between the MRAA and Boating Industry is resulting in a marketing campaign the likes of which the event has never seen. With print and online marketing efforts, event information is easily communicated throughout the industry from a trustworthy source. Third, and along the same lines, a dedicated sales effort, where updates are communicated regularly to the supplier community, are helping to grow support for the dealers who would attend. And, finally, the move to Orlando certainly helped solidify that the MDCE is a new and improved national dealer conference that should be taken seriously.

How is the Top 100 Dealers Program connected to the MDCE?
Now in its sixth year, Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Program was originally aligned with what was formerly known as the MRAA Annual Convention to help promote the advancement of dealer excellence within the only marine dealer association. It was Boating Industry magazine’s belief that by hosting the Top 100 Gala on the final evening of the MRAA Convention, now the MDCE, that we could help drive the improvement of the dealer body. Still, however, the two events are separate from one another in a number of ways. While industry suppliers can sponsor both events, sponsorships are separate programs. Attendance at the Top 100 is also an exclusive opportunity. Only the dealers who are selected to the Top 100 and the Leadership Alliance sponsors of the program are allowed access. The event is structured this way to provide more value for sponsors and more prestige for this group of dealers. In 2008, the Top 100 Gala was opened to all dealers who attended the MDCE. That program remains intact, and we are currently exploring ways that the event can become more of an all-industry celebration.

How do I reserve exhibit space or explore sponsoring the MDCE?
This year’s expo hall has doubled in size, and with the growth of the event, there are more sponsorship opportunities than ever before. To showcase your product in front of this one-of-a-kind, industry-leading audience, or to gain maximum exposure through a sponsorship, please e-mail Kathy Johnson by clicking here or call her at 480/988-3658.

More questions?
Email Matt Gruhn by clicking here or call him at 763/383-4448 or contact an MDCE Conference Committee member by visiting this page.

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